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Re: Perspective about the Vikings & logs

At 09:39 10/05/00 -0400, you wrote:
Sinclair Enthusiasts;
I have often been fastenated about economic history and its impact on social history. It is my understanding that logs and lumbering in Northern Europe may offer one further logical explaination for not only the Henry Sinclair voyage, but also the importance of the Sinclair family in Northern Scotland. One has to appreciate the demand for logs and lumber from heating to building prior to 1700 for heat, building and perhaps most uniquely for transportation and ship building.
It was this demand for sizeable logs in ship building that became critical. By 1200 the massive long trees used for the keels and ribs of vessels were no longer plentiful. This was obvious all through Northern Europe including Norway. One has to keep in mind that wood vessels have a lifespan in the water and to make anything of the length and size of what was required was not easy unless the major beams were carved from one piece of wood. Joindering was not done with rivets obviously. Now recalling that it takes centuries to grow a tree of this length and dimention and the demand for this critical lumber in construction of everything of any size, then one then has to appreciate that searching for such large trees such as oaks became a critical activity for all the Northern European nations. Now the location of the trees of this size also was an issue. If they existed in the interior access and moving them was deterrent to harvesting them for ship building on the coast.
Now if one looks at a map of northern Europe and looks for the area for old growth forest in say 1200-1500 one has to do a lot of looking. Certainly in the North where trees were a but smaller by natural geography. One looks at Northern Scotland, Norway, Sweden the coast of Finland, Denmark, and then all the way across to Greenland then Labrador and Newfoundland trees of the length required for Viking keels were simply not plentiful.  Go south to the Maritimes and to New England and surprise one had such resources again in abundance. In fact the lumber of the New World kept the Navy's of Europe going until 1850 and built the largest fleets for America with the properties of long masts and spars and keels and ribs.   Henry's voyage to the new world may have been motivated by a number of mythical and otherwise logical quests, but as Admiral of Scotland, and as an Earl of Norway one of the chief occupations of concern was simply where to find the natural resources to keep rebuilding the ships in use.  Again this is one of the simple and obvious explainations for adventure of any sort and while not as glamorous as other explainations, it is simple economic and geographical history. Niven might add this to his list of explainations for the voyage but I presume he has done so.
Neil Sinclair
Toronto/PEI/Forever Argyll
 Trees were shipped from Scandinavia to Orkney (which is largely treeless) and the red sandstone from
 the Isle of Eday was taken back as ballast and for building purposes to Scandinavia.  The buildings in
Scandinavia stand as proof of that trade.

Henry  would be looking out for timber but he would also be looking out for other profitable merchandise
which, by the time of his voyage, was attracting ships from every European nation.  It will be recalled
that he found people speaking in ten different languages when he reached Newfoundland.  His voyage
was essentially a voyage of exploration, discovery and colonisation.

The Templars were determined to find a new land where their ideals could take root and flourish free
from the interference of Popes or Kings.  They found that new land.  They settled that new land and, I
believe, DNA testing would establish that they mixed with the nubile young females which they found

As you know, I invited three of the Micmac elders to the Sinclair Symposium in Orkney and, during
one dinner, Dr Peter Christmas, the Micmac Cultural Director, leaned over the table and said to me:

                "If you left this room and my uncle came back wearing your clothes,
                no-one would know the difference".

When we filmed Micmac children sitting on a grassy bank listening to the 'tales of Glooscap' being
told to them, that scene could have been shot anywhere in Scotland and no-one would have known
the difference.

Equally, our film of the architecture and stonework of Newport Tower is similar to the architecture of
buildings in Orkney - so much so that you cannot tell which film sequence comes from which side of
the Atlantic.

We are no longer talking about probabilities.  We have to be realistic.  Henry's men were not celibate.
The same style of architecture (whether pyramids or round towers) didn't develop on different sides of
the Atlantic accidentally.   They were introduced.  This is as plain as the noses on our faces and, yet,
we have those who question  the evidence of their own eyes because of their early indoctrination about
the 'discovery' of America.  You cannot 'discover' a place where people have been living for 35,000 years
and where 7,000 year-old Caucasian skeletons have been found.

The cultural diffusion between the Old World and the New World has been going on for thousands of
years.  We delude ourselves if we think otherwise but, then, Man's ability to deceive himself has always
been his most developed faculty.

Niven Sinclair